Tuvalu News

Cook's Rasmussen Says He's Best For Forum's Top Job

12 August, 2008

Cook Islands’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, Wilkie Rasmussen, says he is the best person to lead the Pacific Islands Forum because of his “better understanding of the political, economical and social aspects of the region."

Rasmussen is one of the three nominees for the position of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The position was held by the late Greg Urwin, until he stepped down nearly nine months ago because of health reasons.

Tuvalu’s Felete Penitala Teo has served as acting secretary general. Teo, along with Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa and Rasmussen are the three candidates for the Forum job, all nominated by their respective governments.

Forum leaders will appoint the new secretary general at their annual retreat at the Forum Summit in Niue this month.

Each of the nominees has had extensive working background. Slade is a former Attorney General of Samoa; senior legal adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat; Samoa’s ambassador to the United Nations; and was a Judge in the International Criminal Court.

Teo is a former Attorney General of Tuvalu; Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency; Deputy Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat; and is presently the Acting secretary general.

Rasmussen is a former New Zealand journalist; a fully qualified lawyer; Secretary to Cabinet of Cook Islands; Tutor in Anthropology Department of University of Auckland; Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand; and is presently the Cook Islands’ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Since 2004, Rasmussen has been traveling extensively at the ministerial level around the region and internationally for meetings, negotiations and dialogues as minster responsible for foreign affairs, immigration, trade, marine resources and tourism.

In 2006, he was a panelist on Pacific Ministers for the Post-Forum Dialogue. Last year he became the Co-President of the African Caribbean Pacific European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly. And this year he chaired and hosted the Pacific Forum Trade Ministers Meeting.

“One must be fully independent of all regional countries and have guts to speak on issues for the region as a whole rather than individualizing for just one country. I am suitably qualified to take on that role and my credentials support this,” Rasmussen said.

“I was privately approached by a good number of regional countries for this position but regardless of who gets the position, the new secretary general should not allow himself to be overwhelmed by the two major countries New Zealand and Australia.

“As a secretary general, one has to be impartial and be able to be at par as well when dialoguing.”

In 2004, Rasmussen walked into the Cook Islands Parliament unopposed in his constituency of Penhryn Island, which is four hours away by plane from the main island of Rarotonga. 


Source: Pacific Magazine

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